I'm not normally into memes, but DonVA (of Ramblings of a Single Dad) tagged me, and in the interest of holiday cheer, I'll play along. Incidentally, though, this often too-cool for its own good heart of mine was warmed considerably by his revent post. I highly reccomend reading his entry for the Christmas meme...particularly if you need reassurance that there are some great people still around in the world.
As for Christmas memories...
Well, I don't have anything that remotely compares to Don's, but what I do have are certain feelings about Christmas that were informed from early memories. When was a very young, Christmas Eve was a whirlwind; I remember that breathless anticipation, and the equally breathless exhaustion, of making both sets of grandparents' houses, as well as both my mom and my dad's grandmothes' houses, on the same night. These were 12 hours of gifts, foods, and fun times. We'd start for lunch at my mom's parents' house, and have sandwiches and deli chips (a tradition that is still upheld on Christmas Eve, although now that some of us are Orthodox, and still in the Fast, there is soy cheese and Light n' Life bologna on some of the trays), and we'd exchange gifts there. Then we'd all load up and go to my grandmother's mother's house, where my mom's family had their major get-together (her first cousins--all 7 of them, and their families), where we had the big, celebratory feasting dinner, followed by more gifts. Then, our family ducked out early to hit the tail-end of the big, celebratory feasting dinner at my dad's mother's mother's house, where, of course, we were obliged to eat again, so as not to hurt any feelings. Then, after the gift exhange there (the highlight being the year that all the kids under 16 were given LazerTag guns and target vests!), we went to my dad's parents to exchange gifts with them, and my aunts and uncles (none of whom had any children of their own until very recently). Afterward, we'd go home, where after putting us (my siblings and me) to bed, often well after midnight, my parents would begin setting out Santa gifts, assembling things as necessary. In retrospect, there were many Christmas Days where mom and dad hadn't slept in close to two days--God love them!
Christmas, as you can guess, has always been a time of excess for me; although, thinking about it, excess doesn't seem like quite the right word. Perhaps largess might more appropriately describe the feeling. I suppose I was a spoiled child, although I don't recall ever expecting gifts; I've always been prone to magical thinking, so I suppose I just took gifts given to me with the understanding that all people, everywhere, gave liberally and fully. I realize now, as an adult, that this was, likely, not always the spirit wherein my gifts were given...but the simple wonder of childhood is that you can believe the best in people, judging their actions to come from better impulses than they may have had. Oh, Blessed! How much we have to unlearn as cold, jaded adults! How much do I wish that I could again see the world as I did as a child...a place of vast and substantial love, filling in all the cracks between us.
This is the important lesson of Christmas, I think, and one that is particularly meaningful to me, especially now that this isn't the rhythm of life for the celebration of the holiday. Since mom's grandmother's death (may her memory be eternal), we now get together with her family two weeks before Christmas itself; since dad's grandmother's death (may her memory be eternal), we no longer speak or have contact with any of his aunts, uncles, or cousins (bad family blood ensued). We still go to my mom's mother's on Christmas Eve for lunch, but now mom and I (and this year, dad also!) go to Church for Royal Matins that evening. Our Christmas meal and gift-exchange at dad's parents' house is never at a fixed date, but is decided by common consensus at the Thanksgiving meal; this year, we're going to be there for a late lunch on Sunday, after mom, dad, and I leave Liturgy.
The world seems a smaller place, now that I know that the magic wasn't really magic at all, but just my perceptions of the world. But in the proportion that my own little princedom has decreased, so has the larger world increased. Now, while I miss, on occasion, my misty-eyed, child-like wonder at Christmastide, I contemplate the truly cosmic implications of the fact that God has become Man, and he did this so that I could become like him. Truly, he has taught this man who worshipped the stars to adore him, the Sun of Righteousness.
I suppose all that is left to be said is:
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
Incidentally, I'm tagging Karen, Katie, Petra, and Jacob.